Victoria’s Taxi Industry Inquiry headed by Allan Fels is a breath of fresh air to a monopoly riddled area that overcharges passengers and keeps drivers in poverty.
We wrote about the inquiry – Taxi! Tax Me! – back in February.
The most repugnant monopoly features centre around taxi licenses, a government-granted right that restricts competition and funnels revenue into the hands of license owners. Crimping supply makes passengers wait in the rain and lifts prices – which accrue to the license owners, not drivers.
A Melbourne taxi license is currently worth over $450,000, which prices these powerful monopoly rights as equivalent to a house.
Erected over this monopoly is another: the network service providers that take the customer call and despatch a cab for about 10 per cent of the fare. By regulation, they also run the electronic payments system too.
Professor Fels spoke out on Monday with an op-ed in the AFR.
“…few know about the deeper problems in the (taxi) industry, which include uncompetitive and unresponsive booking networks, extensive vertical integration and a regulatory system which seems more interested in preserving the status quo than protecting consumers.”
I invite you to see the thread in this: crafty operators manipulated government-imposed restrictions against the common good.
Australia is plagued by monopolies and oligarchies which diminish our economic performance and sap our incomes. For most citizens, our work-lives must contend with fierce competitive forces. Meanwhile, a small group of monopoly owners are cocooned in a life of ease and comfort.
The infuriating part is these monopolies usually come about through government licenses, issued for a fraction of their real value. The taxi industry is merely one example. We can only hope the Taxi Industry Inquiry gets it right and reshapes regulation to make taxi transport an efficient, inexpensive service.
I give Paul Kelly the final word: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LerRV-CGeFU